Author Archive

Pause on Federal Student Loan Repayments Extended

Young asian college student hold a sign of student loanThe Department of Education announced on December 22 that it would extend the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections through May 1, 2022. 

When COVID-19 began to wreak havoc with the lives of millions of people in March 2020, Congress passed legislation to temporarily suspend federal student loan payments.  In addition, borrowers were not charged interest on their loans and debt collection efforts were suspended.  The pause was extended several times and was due to be lifted on January 31, 2022.

Using American Rescue Plan Funds to Address Teacher Shortages

Smiling teacher and boy giving high five in classroom at school

In March, President Joseph Biden signed in to law the American Rescue Plan Act (commonly referred to as ‘ARP’), which included more than $120 billion to help schools safely reopen for in-person learning. The funding can be used in a variety of ways, including to address the nation’s teacher shortage by placing teacher candidates in K12 classrooms. AACTE created a Toolkit to help members navigate conversations with state or local education leaders about using ARP funding for this purpose.

Action Needed: Urge Your Members of Congress to Co-Sponsor the Educators for America Act

Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Representative Alma Adams (D-N.C.) recently introduced the Educators for America Act, which would modernize Title II of the Higher Education Act and help ensure that future teachers are profession-ready to enter the classroom. The Educators for America Act was introduced after more than a year of consultations with experts in the educator field and partner organizations.  
Action Needed Now we must use our voice to build support and momentum behind the bill. Urge your representative and senators to co-sponsor the Educators for America Act via AACTE’s Action Center.  

Using COVID Relief Funding to Address the Nation’s Teacher Shortage

Earlier this year, President Bident signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, which included more than $125 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. These funds are being used by state educational agencies and school districts to reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. 

In response, AACTE created a Toolkit to help educator preparation programs collaborate with their local partner districts to allocate the ARP ESSER funds towards strengthening the educator workforce by supporting residency models, grow-your-own programs, and other innovative approaches to develop a pathway into teaching.

Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Educator Prep Programs and Fully Fund

AACTE recently posted two action alerts, which are a quick and easy way for you to urge your members of congress to support legislation pending before Congress.

The first action alert calls on Senators to include funding for educator preparation programs in the Build Back Better legislation it is currently negotiating.  Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed legislation that included more than $1 billion for these programs, an investment that is long overdue.  However, it is unclear if the Senate will include this funding in their version of the bill.  Your voice can help determine the fate of this critical funding.

Congress Introduces Legislation to Fully Fund IDEA

Urge Your Representative and Senators to Cosponsor the IDEA Full Funding Act Today

Portrait of disabled schoolboy using digital tablet in classroom at schoolSenator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) this week introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to finally ensure Congress’ commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). AACTE is a strong supporter of this legislation and has called for Congress to fully fund IDEA to help support students with disabilities.

President Biden Releases Build Back Better Package

Build Back Better

AACTE expressed its strong support and appreciation for the historic funding for educator preparation programs included in President Joseph Biden’s Build Back Better framework, which was released today.  This funding will help ensure that our nation’s classrooms are led by profession-ready and diverse educators.  AACTE strongly urges Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible to help address the shortage of educators our nation has been experiencing and that has gotten worse in recent years.

Department of Education Overhauls Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Graduates at university graduation ceremony wearing mortarboard and gown

The Department of Education announced today changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) that will allow thousands of students to qualify for the program and see their debts forgiven. 

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was designed to allow student loan borrowers, who pay down their debts for 10 years while working at a public-sector or nonprofit job, to have any remaining debt forgiven at the end of that decade.  However, only a small number of borrowers benefited from the program because they had taken out the wrong type of federal loan or had been enrolled in an ineligible repayment plan. In come cases, the debt was not forgiven because of minor clerical errors.

Congress Passes Legislation to Improve TEACH Grants

An elementary art teacher instructs second-grade students attending in person and remotely at Wesley Elementary School.

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

This week, the House of Representatives passed the Consider Teachers Act, which would make certain improvements to the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants program.  The TEACH Grant program is intended to encourage individuals to enter the teaching profession by providing recipients with grants of up to $4,000 per year to pursue coursework that leads to a certification in teaching. AACTE has long supported this program to help address the nation’s shortage of educators.

AACTE Contributes to the Committee for Education Funding’s Budget Book

Council for Education Funding - Education MattersOne of the important coalitions AACTE is a member of is the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), which is the oldest and largest coalition of education associations and calls for an increase in federal funding for education. CEF’s current campaign is “5 Cents Makes Sense,” which calls for 5 cents of every federal dollar to be spent on education. The campaign’s official hashtag is #5Cents4EdFunding. 

Each year, CEF publishes a Budget Book, which analyzes the President’s budget proposal and its impact on federal education programs.  AACTE contributed two articles to the Book.  One is on TEACH Grants, the federal program that supports the recruitment of high-quality teacher candidates for hard-to-staff fields and schools. The other article is on the Teacher Quality Partnership program, which is the only federal initiative designed to strengthen and reform educator preparation at institutions of higher education.

House Committee Approves Significant Investments in Education Preparation Programs

High School Students With Teacher In Class Using LaptopsOn September 9, the House Education and Labor Committee began work on its part of the reconciliation package that would make historic investments in American families, students, and the workforce. The legislation passed on a party line vote (28-22) and will be considered by the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Among the new policies, the House Education and Labor committee calls for investing an additional

New Tools to Support Your Advocacy

White House in the fall

As we enter September, we are just weeks away from AACTE’s Day on the Hill, the Association’s premiere advocacy event.  Participation in the event is critical to helping advance AACTE’s legislative priorities and highlighting the importance of teacher preparation programs.  If you have not participated in Day on the Hill, or if you need a refresher, you may be wondering what attendees will be advocating for during their meetings with Members of Congress and congressional staffers. The AACTE team has posted a variety of Washington Week resources on the to help guide participants. 

In many cases, you will be familiar with the issues: the importance of TEACH Grants, which are critical to helping students enter the teaching profession while helping to address shortages in hard-to-staff fields and schools; Teacher Quality Partnerships (TQP), which helps strengthen the teacher pipeline; and a variety of other bills that will help make sure our nation’s classrooms are staffed with profession-ready, diverse group of educators.

While it is helpful to review these materials ahead of Day on the Hill sessions, please know that we will discuss the political landscape and AACTE’s legislative priorities before meeting with members of congress to help you become more comfortable with advocacy. And there will be several other panels to help you understand why advocacy is important and how you can have successful meetings.

If you haven’t already, I hope you will plan to join us for our Day on the Hill. To register, please visit AACTE’s website

 

 

Why Participate in AACTE’s Day on the Hill?

AACTE’s annual Day on the Hill, the association’s premiere advocacy event, is scheduled for September 21-23. It is a unique opportunity to engage with your Members of Congress about the critical work you do. But some may wonder, “What do I get out of participating?”

First and foremost, you can explain to policymakers the importance of the teaching profession and why it is important to invest in teacher preparation programs to help address the teacher shortage and diversify the profession. Even before the pandemic, the teacher shortage was a critical issue for our nation.  Studies and news reports indicate that COVID will make the problem more acute. Fortunately, President Biden has proposed historic funding increases for programs AACTE has long supported, like the Teacher Quality Partnerships, and doubling of the TEACH Grants, which are critical to training student to teach in high needs schools or fields. Your voice is critical to helping this legislation pass.

Adding your Voice to the Conversation

2021 Washington Week - Day on the Hill

The nation’s newspapers, websites, and blogs are filled with discussions about what policies Congress should address next. Currently, it seems like all eyes are on Afghanistan; yesterday was all about investing in the nation’s infrastructure; tomorrow the discussion may be on President Biden’s American Families Plan. The president’s proposal calls for historic investments in our nation’s youth, families, and economic future, including a call to invest $9 billion in teacher preparation programs. But it is unclear whether Congress will support the proposal, let alone the $9 billion in long-overdue investments in teacher preparation.

Bring Your Passion to AACTE’s Day on the Hill

Day on the Hill grqaphic

AACTE’s virtual Day on the Hill is scheduled for September 21-23. As we prepare for AACTE’s premiere advocacy event, some may wonder, “What legislation should we prioritize?” The simplest answer is whatever you are most passionate about.

The nation is facing a teacher shortage. We are all familiar with the statistics: there were an estimated 100,000 classrooms in 2018 staffed by instructors who did not complete some type of educator preparation program; despite increased need for PK-12 teachers—and growing enrollment in higher education—the number of students completing bachelor’s degrees in education has been declining over the last two decades; in a recent survey, 27% of teachers said they were considering leaving their jobs, retiring early, or taking a leave of absence due to COVID-19.

However, there are legislative proposals that seek to address these issues and more.

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